Families Sue Priest for Molesting Sons

United Press International
July 29, 1986

SPOKANE, Wash. — The families of a half dozen boys molested by a Roman Catholic priest who admitted the crimes have filed lawsuits against the priest, his church, and the medical center where he worked with the boys.

The lawsuits, filed Monday in Spokane Superior Court, seek unspecified damages against suspended Catholic priest Ronald Lane Fontenot, 40. Last month Fontenot was sentenced to a year in jail and three years probation for molesting the youths while they were under his care at a drug and alcohol treatment center.

Superior Court Judge Harold Clarke granted a motion by the parents to permit them to remain anonymous in public court documents by listing themselves as "John Does" in the lawsuits.

The lawsuits charge the Deaconess Medical Center, which hired Fontenot to work in the Nancy Reagan CareUnit, knew or should have known of the priest's "proclivity for illicit relationships with young males."

The suit seeks damages for treatment and rehabilitation, mental and emotional anguish and loss of childhood self-image and spiritual guidance.

Fontenot has pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree statutory rape and four misdemeanor counts of communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

In addition to the jail term, Fontenot has been ordered to complete two years of treatment at a Catholic facility run by The Servants of the Paracletes in Jemez Spring, N.M.

Several of Fontenot's victims were patients at the Nancy Reagan CareUnit, a Deaconess Medical Center treatment facility for adolescents with alcohol and drug-abuse problems where Fontinot was employed as a counselor.

Fontenot's legal problems in Spokane attracted nationwide attention because of his connection with the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette, La., which has been shaken by sex scandals in recent years.

Fontenot arrived in the Spokane area in late 1984 after leaving a treatment center for troubled clerics in the Boston area. He was sent to the treatment center by his Louisiana diocese, which stripped him of priestly duties following a 1983 accusation that he molested a boy.

The priest and the Louisiana diocese also have been named in a multi-million dollar lawsuit brought by the parents of the Louisiana boy.

The Spokane parents' lawsuits name as defendants: Fontenot; CompCare Inc.; Deaconess Medical Center; the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, operating as the Jesuit House; Bishop Gerald L. Frey; the Roman Catholic Church for the Diocese of Lafayette, La.; the Catholic Bishops of Spokane; the Roman Catholic Church of the Papacy, and Monsignor Henry Larroque, vicar general of the Lafayette, La., Diocese.


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